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legal to ride once stolen, but recovered bicycle?

Old 11-30-15, 12:15 PM
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legal to ride once stolen, but recovered bicycle?

My uncle had a Raleigh Sportif bike stolen back in the 80s and recovered it. Bad thing is the serial was ground off completely. It's just sat under his carport for years and he said I can have it. Just wondering the legal aspect of riding this on the street with no serial that's visibly been ground off and rusty.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:19 PM
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It's absolutely legal to ride. Without a supportable claim by others, it's a case of "Possession is nine points of the law". You're uncle owned it, and gave it to you, so now you own it ---- until your uncle claims you took it without permission.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:20 PM
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Could be that you'll never be questioned about it,but if you are you'd have to prove everything,,, and that story sounds suspicious,,,
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Old 11-30-15, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ceelint View Post
My uncle had a Raleigh Sportif bike stolen back in the 80s and recovered it. Bad thing is the serial was ground off completely. It's just sat under his carport for years and he said I can have it. Just wondering the legal aspect of riding this on the street with no serial that's visibly been ground off and rusty.
As long as your Uncle is alive, you should be OK. JK (No offense meant to your uncle.) I don't see any problem as long as you didn't steal the bike. Not that you would, or did.., or whatever. When you ride a bike, you're not licensed. The bike isn't licensed either. You ride it until it gets stolen and then you offer support for your claim to the police, possibly to an insurance company. The serial number is helpful as it can be entered into a data base of stolen bikes which could (a very slim possibility) help in its recovery. Failing to have a serial number, you could add your own "unique" mark, take a photo and save it securely, and then if your non-serial number bike is stolen you can provide evidence, photo of your unique mark, to support your claim.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Fastfingaz View Post
Could be that you'll never be questioned about it,but if you are you'd have to prove everything,,, and that story sounds suspicious,,,
There's never an obligation to prove ownership of most property. Ownership is supported by possession, and there would have to be credible evidence that it's not yours to override that.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
There's never an obligation to prove ownership of most property. Ownership is supported by possession, and there would have to be credible evidence that it's not yours to override that.
The police are also happy to write up police reports of stolen property without a serial number. This is helpful because many insurance companies will not start a claim without a police report.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:38 PM
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He lives up in the Bay Area where theft is bad, I guess some recycling place was giving bums money for stolen bikes and reselling them, he happened to take some stuff to recycle and saw his bike there... I was at his house this Thanksgiving vacation and brought it home.. with prrmission of course. I had one of my bikes disappear back in August, so I can't stand bike thieves. I'd most likely just do a cheap singlespeed conversion and use it as a beater for when the weather calls for it.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:43 PM
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So I can take a bike,from you and since I now possess it that means it's mine
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Old 11-30-15, 12:45 PM
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are we really talking about a "classic" '80's Raleigh Sportif with suicide levers and turkey wings?

here's one in pristine, "glory days", condition...



who in god's name would care one way or another? they, and their like (no offense), are being tossed into land fills by the bucket load every single day.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:47 PM
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I've never been asked to prove ownership of my bike by displaying the serial number (although I had a stolen bike recovered that way).

I'd take a few photos of the bike. If you have 30 year old photos, all the better. Was a police report filed 30 years ago? If the police ever question you, then they would have to dig up all the old dusty police reports to prove ownership transfer. It doesn't sound like a very expensive bike. I doubt the police would choose to dig through old archived non-computerized records to look for the old report.

What might be illegal would be to grind the serial number to hide the theft. But, neither you, nor your uncle did that.
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Old 11-30-15, 12:48 PM
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Come on man it's not the value , it's the principal,,,
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Old 11-30-15, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
are we really talking about a "classic" '80's Raleigh Sportif with suicide levers and turkey wings?

here's one in pristine, "glory days", condition...



who in god's name would care one way or another? they, and their like (no offense), are being tossed into land fills by the bucket load every single day.
that's the one.. .. it'll be a winter beater conversion
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Old 11-30-15, 12:57 PM
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'Cleanest' option is Buying then at Police or Campus Security Auctions..
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Old 11-30-15, 12:57 PM
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It'd just be on our word, no paperwork... he never recorded the serial so never bothered making a report.. I mean even with a serial being reported, how often do you get it back... hardly ever.. he just got lucky by stumbling upon it.
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Old 11-30-15, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Fastfingaz View Post
So I can take a bike,from you and since I now possess it that means it's mine
Yes, as far as the law is concerned. That is, until someone makes a claim otherwise and can support it with credible evidence. If no one tries to challenge your ownership, or cannot support the challenge, or there's not some other evidence to counter your presumed ownership, then it's yours.
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Old 11-30-15, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Yes, as far as the law is concerned. That is, until someone makes a claim otherwise and can support it with credible evidence. If no one tries to challenge your ownership, or cannot support the challenge, or there's not some other evidence to counter your presumed ownership, then it's yours.
Lots of "squatters" taking advantage of what FB says. It is very true. What generally keeps this sort of stuff in check is that the penalty for theft can be stiff.
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Old 11-30-15, 01:20 PM
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legal or not, serial number or not, stolen or not, anyone that wants to take one of those old bikes and make use of it has my admiration.
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Old 11-30-15, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
legal or not, serial number or not, stolen or not, anyone that wants to take one of those old bikes and make use of it has my admiration.
He gets my vote for a TOP Re-cyclist! Haha
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Old 11-30-15, 01:53 PM
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Doesn't the law for criminal justice require proof that he stole it, not evidence that the bike was stolen at some time in its life? A ground off serial isn't proof of anything beyond tools being used to grind it off. Yes, I would expect police to question you, probably bring you intro the station, but if they take it further, they better have a solid case against you, otherwise they are opening themselves up to charges of harassment. (The Constitution.)

It might be worth asking at the police station what they would do (perhaps framed as a "what if I were given a a bike that had been stolen and recovered". (I'd leave the bike at home.)

Ben

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Old 11-30-15, 02:54 PM
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No offence to the OP, but who's gonna steal it? Maybe back in the 80's, but that's at least 16 years ago.
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Old 11-30-15, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by usedbutnotup View Post
No offence to the OP, but who's gonna steal it? Maybe back in the 80's, but that's at least 16 years ago.
Wish THAT were true. But almost 26 years have past since the 80's.
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Old 11-30-15, 03:28 PM
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Haha.. no offense taken.. it'll make a great winter beater while I repaint my main rig
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Old 11-30-15, 03:29 PM
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Hmmm live and learn,,and I always thought that was called stealing,,
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Old 11-30-15, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Doesn't the law for criminal justice require proof that he stole it, not evidence that the bike was stolen at some time in its life? A ground off serial isn't proof of anything beyond tools being used to grind it off. Yes, I would expect police to question you, probably bring you intro the station, but if they take it further, they better have a solid case against you, otherwise they are opening themselves up to charges of harassment. (The Constitution.)

It might be worth asking at the police station what they would do (perhaps framed as a "what if I were given a a bike that had been stolen and recovered". (I'd leave the bike at home.)

Ben
Or take the bike with you... What officer is going to believe a citizen would bring the bike they stole and erased the SN on to the station? Do you think he would be accused of the theft? Most officers, I've got to believe, would regard the individual as outstanding. Considering that they deal with people that complain that they didn't know the law (Do you know the speed limit on this road? You can't leave the store without paying for that. etc.) or aren't interested in the protection police provide, the cops, IMHO, are going to think that this kid is pretty cool.
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Old 11-30-15, 04:50 PM
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A bit of reality check.

1- is the OP riding with a flashing neon sign saying "SERIAL NUMBER GROUND OFF"? If not, why would the issue even arise in the first place?

2- think about the handling of looted art that turns up in collections or museums. Families trying to establish claims must sue in civil court and prove a number of things; that their forebears originally owned it, haven't sold it, and some evidence to support the claim that it was looted during the war or otherwise stolen. Then they might get an order returning the artwork.

There would be no criminal charges unless a case can be made that the current possessor knew, or must have known, that it was stolen property. That's why there are so few criminal charges filed for simple possession of stolen goods. That's usually reserved for professional dealers in stolen goods, where the shear volume argues against "I thought it was clean".

So even if this bike is so hot that it glows in the dark, there's nearly zero risk of any police interference if you ride it.
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